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abortion baby



As we know it, abortion is allowed in Canada. But what are the restrictions, and how did that come to be?



In Canada’s early history, abortion was illegal. It was officially banned in 1869.

There has been a progression to allowing abortions because of concern for women’s health. (Sadly, the health of the baby has not been considered.)

Because abortions were illegal, women who wanted an abortion would often try to do it themselves or try to get someone to help them. This of course led to the death of many women.

Abortion was completely illegal until the 1960’s.



Chief Coroner Shulman saw how many women died and how botched up they looked after trying to perform their own abortion. He began to be concerned about women who did not have access to safe abortions. He instructed his coroners to begin a public inquest on each death caused by abortion.

He recommended that the government review the law about abortion and newspapers published articles on the subject.

In 1965 Mr. Shulman received a letter from Guy Favreau (the Minister of Justice) saying that they would consider amending the Criminal Code. Eventually the code was amended to closely follow the coroner’s recommendations.

In 1969, the ‘Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-1969’ was introduced by the Liberal government (Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau). It allowed abortion as long as a committee of doctors agreed it was the best thing to do for the physical or mental health of the mother.

Section 287 of the Criminal Code was written by Pierre Trudeau to alter the abortion law.  Before this was passed, abortion was an offense which could result in life in prison.




In 1975 a report was done across Canada to ensure that abortions were approved consistently and fairly everywhere.  The results of the report showed that abortions were not performed equally across Canada.

This was because there were no set guidelines as to when an abortion should be approved or not approved. Many hospitals didn’t even make up a Therapeutic Abortion Committee to decide on abortion.

Some doctors were very liberal and approved every request and some were very conservative and approved barely any or none at all.

By 1982 66,319 abortions were performed across Canada.  Women had a hard time accessing abortions in smaller cities and often travelled to larger cities or the United States to have them.



In 1973 Dr. Morgentaler decided to defy the law and began performing abortions in his clinic without permission.

Dr. Morgentaler openly admitted to performing 5,000 abortions without approval of a three doctor committee and even went as far as to videotaping himself doing it.

He was taken to court twice by the Quebec government. But, the juries refused to convict him despite his open admission to performing abortions.

The government appealed one acquittal and overturned the verdict and sentenced Morgentaler to 18 months in jail. However, the public cried out against it and the federal government passed a law called the ‘Morgentaler Amendment’. This prevented overturning a jury’s ‘not guilty’ verdict.

Morgentaler was aquitted at a third trial, which caused the Quebec government to declare the abortion law unenforceable.

After he was released from Prison, Morgentaler decided to challenge the law all over Canada. Over the next 15 years he opened up clinics in various provinces and performed abortions illegally.

Following a fourth jury acquittal in 1984, the Ontario government appealed the decision. The Ontario Court of Appeal set aside the acquittal and ordered a re-trial.

Morgentaler appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. The court decided and made a ruling that the abortion laws in Canada were unconstitutional. They stated: “Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations” and that the law “asserts that the woman’s capacity to reproduce is to be subject, not to her own control, but to that of the state” were a breach to a women’s right to ‘Security of the person’ which is guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms.


In 1988, the existing abortion law of 1969 was struck down and considered unconstitutional.

That spring, Progressive Conservatives government tried to pass a new abortion law and failed.  They tried to find a compromise solution that allowed early abortions but criminalized late term ones. The motion in the House of Commons was defeated with a vote of 147 to 76. MPs who opposed access to easy abortions, and MPs who were opposed to adding aborting rules to the criminal code were the ones that voted against it.  Since then, Canada has had no criminal laws governing abortion.



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May 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm by admin
Category: Articles